How to Avoid Arsenic and Still Enjoy Juice
Diluting juice with water can lower the amount of juice your kids drink
Following reports by famed Dr. Mehmet Oz indicating that some apple juices exceed the drinking water safety limits for arsenic, Consumer Reports conducted tests that confirmed these findings: Approximately 10% of 88 apple and grape juice samples tested contained more than 10 ppb of arsenic. Arsenic levels are a concern because exposure may increase the risk of short- and long-term health problems, especially in kids, who, with their smaller size, are especially vulnerable and are often given juice. Fortunately, a few precautions can go a long way toward keeping your family safe.
Arsenic type is key to risk
Arsenic comes in two forms: organic and inorganic. Organic arsenic forms naturally in certain foods, such as fish. This type of organic arsenic, known as arsenobetaine, is considered nontoxic.
Chronic exposure to inorganic arsenic, however, has been linked to a host of health problems including high blood pressure, diabetes, reproductive problems, and bladder and other cancers. In children, chronic inorganic arsenic exposure may lead to diminished intelligence and dramatically higher rates of lung cancer later in life. In addition to fruit juices, inorganic arsenic is found in some foods and drinking water from some private wells.
Checking on consumer safety
In addition to testing the juices, Consumer Reports also studied the connection between drinking juice and arsenic exposure. People who regularly drink apple juice had 19% higher urine arsenic levels than non-apple juice drinkers. Grape juice drinkers had 20% higher urine arsenic levels.
The study didn't include children under six, which means the findings may underestimate young kids' arsenic exposures. Dr. Robert Wright of Harvard University explains, "Because of their small size, a child drinking a box of juice would consume a larger per-body-weight dose of arsenic than an adult drinking the exact same box of juice."
Keeping arsenic in check
While it is impossible to avoid all inorganic arsenic, several steps can limit exposure:
("Arsenic in your juice." Available at www.consumerreports.org/cro/consumer-reports-magazine-january-2012/arsenic-in-your-juice/index.htm. Accessed December 4, 2011.)
Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD, an author, speaker, and internationally recognized expert in chronic disease prevention, epidemiology, and nutrition, has taught medical, nursing, public health, and alternative medicine coursework. She has delivered over 150 invited lectures to health professionals and consumers and is the creator of a nutrition website acclaimed by the New York Times and Time magazine. Suzanne received her training in epidemiology and nutrition at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health at Ann Arbor.